Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shop Smart To Find Frugal Holiday Gifts

It can be very easy to run up a big bill when it comes to buying gifts for the holidays.  When you have a tight budget, you can reach your limit fast!  How can you stretch your budget so you can still give your family and friends gifts that they will love, and be eco-smart at the same time?  Let's take a look at a few simple ideas for giving gifts on a budget.

Buy Off Season

Christmas gifts.
Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the most effective ways to stay within your budget when buying holiday gifts is to actually do most of your shopping during the off season periods. If you keep a list of gift ideas on hand, you can shop the real deals, and not the ones that the stores like to entice you with just before the holidays.  As we get closer to the holidays, prices tend to climb, then you'll get a few teaser sales that look good but really aren't.  If you watch the sales throughout the year, you are bound to find deals that are real, and not the inflated prices during the height of the holiday shopping season.

Search Online

If you haven't gotten acquainted yet with online shopping, now is the time.  Companies are in hot competition to get your business so they are offering not only lower prices but free shipping, and even free returns!  There are plenty of coupon sites to check out, too, but many companies are just skipping right by the coupons and giving you the deals directly.  It really pays to shop around, and there are even sites that do that for you, too.  Start early so you have plenty of time to send items back if they don't work out for you.  Remember, it's all about customer service so be picky and find companies with great websites, deals, and shipping options that you like. And you can save money on gas since you don't have to drive to the store. Plus also gives you lots more options for finding affordable and eco-friendly gifts!

Dig Into the Clearance Bin

The clearance bin can be your best friend when you're looking for a bargain. A toy that was a top seller last year could very well end up deeply discounted this year. Clothing, household items, decorative items, etc. all end up in the clearance bin at some time or other.  If you're at the department store, look for the signs and head that way.  You have to be patient and be prepared to spend some time digging through the items if you want the best deal.  If you're shopping online, click that CLEARANCE button and start scrolling. Things move fast on the sale racks, so be ready to shop when you find an item.

English: icon for smartphone (smart phone) rel...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Use Your Phone

It is amazing how much money that phone in your pocket can save you. They call it a "smart phone" for a reason. Don't be afraid to use it when shopping for your holiday gifts. If you find something at a store while you're out shopping, why drive around to see if you can find it cheaper elsewhere?  Not only is this costly, but it also wastes fuel and contributes to emissions and pollution. Instead, pull out your phone, download an app and you can have your own personal price checker. Not only will it tell you where to go for the lower price, many of the apps tell you who still has them available and gives you the opportunity to call the store and have them hold the item for you. If you don't have a 'smart phone' don't fret. Your phone is still your best friend. Call the store and ask. If they are not willing to help you, then they don't need your business. Either way, your phone has helped you make a decision and you didn't need to drive around and waste money on gas.

Make it Yourself

When you can add the label “Handmade Especially For You” on a gift item, you know it will be well received and greatly appreciated. What are your talents? Can you put them to work to create gifts for the holidays?  Perhaps you can learn a new talent.  There are plenty of DIY books, magazines, and websites that can help you get started creating one of a kind gift items.  Not only are these handmade gifts special, but they ordinarily are much cheaper.  If you're trying to give special gifts on a budget, handmade items are very often the way to go - and definitely more eco-friendly! Home-made gifts save on packaging, shipping, and other waste.

If you've ever found yourself standing dazed, in the middle of a store around the holidays, you most likely didn't plan ahead.  Gift giving is not easy, or cheap, when you do it on the fly or at the last minute.  Plan ahead, shop smart, and try these tips to give the perfect gifts this holiday season, even on your tight budget.

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